Thailand’s Digital Wallet Scheme Faces Funding Concerns as Economy Struggles with Low Growth Rates

Thai Prime Minister considers funding options to boost economy with $13.7 billion handout plan

On Wednesday, Thai Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin announced that the economy was facing challenges and needed a boost from a proposed 500 billion baht ($13.7 billion) handout scheme. This scheme, known as the “digital wallet,” involved transferring 10,000 baht ($275) to 50 million Thais to be spent within six months. However, concerns about its funding have been raised, with some experts calling it fiscally irresponsible.

Despite initial plans to distribute the funds by May, the government now anticipates doing so in the fourth quarter of the year. The finance ministry and Budget Bureau are exploring different funding options for the scheme, including borrowing bill. The prime minister emphasized the importance of boosting the economy, especially given low growth rates experienced over the past decade.

In 2023, Thailand’s economy unexpectedly contracted in the final quarter, leading to a full-year growth rate of 1.9%, lower than expected growth seen in 2022. The state planning agency has revised its growth forecast for 2024 to between 2.2% and 3.2%. Discussions about funding sources for the handout scheme will be held at an upcoming meeting on April 10th where details will be finalized.

One potential option for financing this scheme is through borrowing bill from fiscal budget which was recently approved for the 2024 fiscal year by parliamentary houses . While government attempted to propose borrowing bill for this program but concerns about its legality were raised as such bills reserved for times of economic crisis . Despite differing opinions , both prime minister and central bank governor agreed that economy faced challenges and required urgent measures to stimulate growth .

Sophia Reynolds

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